THE TEACHERS STRIKE: New York, 1968 by Martin Mayer


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A reconstruction of that super-complicated event by the author of The Lawyers, etc., who knows the New York school system and enjoyed beyind-the-scenes access. Mayer's elaborate, very readable, forthrightly opinionated account of the negotiations and the four months preceding them includes new information on secret meetings and provisional agreements. He punctures the notion of huge ""community"" support for decentralization and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville governing board as such. Toward the Shanker leadership, his critical powers are less acute, and he provides too little background on the union's past policies and basic aims. Moreover, he fails to relate his data to the context of school-fund cuts or city plans for cooling off the ghetto. What he does show are specific links, e.g. between negotiator Kheel and Kenneth Clark's foundation; but he is negligent in pursuing further ties with Allen, Bundy, the Ford Foundation, the Urban Coalition, and other ""leadership elements"" which he holds largely responsible for the mess. His evidence is strong that McCoy, with the cooperation of some foundation elements, deliberately forced a confrontation--one which Lindsay deliberately made into a racial issue. Though Mayer sees through the manipulative cant about giving people a feeling of control, he doesn't pursue the implications of his data beyond vague criticisms of ""Lindsay's desire to politicize the school system."" Nonetheless, an exceedingly valuable book, not only for New Yorkers but for anyone concerned with city schools, public employees' unions, and social change.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1969
Publisher: Harper & Row